Where’s the beef?
According to Doug and Carrie Thompson, it’s at 21 Railroad Ave. in Cooperstown, where the couple launched a meat market and cafe earlier this month. The shop offers standard and custom cuts of the Thompsons’ grass-fed and -finished beef, while the cafe portion features gourmet, all-beef hot dogs, refreshments and baked goods.
Carrie Thompson, 51, said opening the store was a natural evolution in the cattle-raising process.
“We moved up here from New Jersey about 10 years ago and started a grass-fed, grass-finished cattle farm,” she said. “It’s not a cattle ranch … and (G&T Farm) is in Richfield Springs and Springfield.”
“We started very small with about 100 cows and we purchased the genetics of pure, 100 percent grass-fed and -finished animals to start our farm with the right genetic profile to adapt to an all-grass diet,” Thompson continued. “We built the herd so that we could become an enclosed herd.”
With a herd of primarily Angus and Devon cattle established, Thompson said, the couple purchased a processing facility in Hartwick about two years ago.
“When we did that, we decided it was time to launch into retail,” she said. “Getting the processing facility really enabled us to control things and meet our philosophy of doing everything as authentically as we can.”
The Green Cow, Thompson noted, signifies a fine tuning of those retail efforts, designed to bring “beef the way nature intended it” straight to consumers.
“We’d been selling wholesale to high-end restaurants in New York City, but wanted to transition to a direct-to-consumer product,” she said. “Wholesale doesn’t find its way to the consumer. A lot of grass-fed and -finished beef is imported from New Zealand and overseas and a lot of grass-fed and grass-finished retailers aren’t really getting that product locally, so the ability for the consumer to get what they’re looking for is difficult.”
Offering such beef, Thompson said, dovetails with market trends and rising consumer concerns.
“From a consumer education standpoint, more people get it now,” she said. “The movement is big and it’s out there.”
Grass-fed and -finished beef, Thompson said, is an all-around healthier option.
“Typically, in the cattle world, the cows are out on grass part of their lives, sold into the feedlot system and finished on grain,” she said. “But cows are really not designed to eat grain, and the feedlot system doesn’t promote the sustainability of pasture-raising animals, so it’s not as healthy for the environment … and it’s not the healthiest diet for the cows.”
“It’s not just for the sustainability and environmental (aspects) of pasture-raised and -rotated animals,” she continued. “It’s also because of what happens nutritionally to the meat.
When you change the genetic profile, you change the health benefits. Grass-fed and grass-finished beef retains the healthy fats that we all need to be eating and you can create a very healthy fatty acid omega profile.”
Thompson said the early response from customers has been “fantastic” and “very strong,” with buyers especially appreciating the variety of cuts available.
“We can do custom cuts and orders directly to our butchers at the plant, so people can get whatever kind of cut they want,” she said. “There’s no other butcher or meat market in the area that we know of, so we’ve had a lot of people coming in interested in eastern European cooking or looking for unique cuts to do special recipes. We sell tongue and organ meats … and we’ve got the marrow and knuckle bones for dogs and broth.”
“In store, we’re selling whole cow, fresh, frozen and fresh-wrapped cuts and we’re also serving hot dogs,” Thompson continued. “We’re having them made using our beef by an award-winning producer in Canandaigua with a proprietary recipe. A lot of people are coming in just for the hot dogs; they’re that good.”
As the shop establishes itself, Thompson said, she hopes to expand services.
“The dream for the store is to get enough local business coming through to have it become a full-service butcher shop and bring down the butcher from the processing plant,” she said. “If the demand is there, that’s where we’ll go.”
The Green Cow is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, visit thegreencow.com, call 282-4095 to place orders or find “The Green Cow” on Facebook.